“How long, Tennessee?”: A C Looks for a Clement and Finds a Kyle


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Mayor Wharton and Senator Kyle at B.B. Kings
  • JB
  • Mayor Wharton and Senator Kyle at B.B. King's
The gubernatorial campaign of Memphis state Senator Jim Kyle got a boost Thursday night from an unusually ebullient Memphis mayor A C Wharton, guest of honor at a fiundraising reception for Democrat Kyle at B.B. King’s on Beale. Numerous local political figures and union representatives were in the crowd.

No doubt taking his cue from the fact that the sizeable audience included former Nashville congressman Bob Clement, a Kyle in-law and booster, Wharton launched into a dithyramb on the virtues of the late Governor Frank G. Clement and, in particular, on the spellbinding oration — remembered as “How Long, America?” — that Gov. Clement delivered as the keynote address at the 1956 Democratic convention.

Said the mayor:

“We had a man in Frank Clement a governor of the people in every sense of the word, and I have looked here and yon, I have looked high and low, and I have wondered, ‘When will somebody come along who knows the values of Frank Goad Clement?’….I couldn’t find a Clement, but I found a Kyle!.

“God has sent us a tall man and not by chance. This is a long state. We need someone who is not short on vision. We need someone who is long on vision who is able to see across the length and breadth of this state.”

(Also, interestingly, given the well-known hand-in-glove relationship between Senate Democratic leader Kyle and Governor Phil Bredesen, Wharton had this to say:

“This is a man who has represented us when everybody else turned against us. When I said to Governor Bredesen, when they pulled the rug out from under us…when we were trying to get money here, one man stood up and took on our most popular governor and said, ‘That’s not right for the citizens of Shelby County.’ That man was Jim Kyle.”)

No word on the amount raised, but the recommended contribution levels ranged from $250 to $2500. Kyle has released no financial figures as of yet. His remaining Democratic rivals are Mike McWherter, the Jackson businessman and son of former Governor Ned Mcwherter, and Kim McMillan of Clarksville, the former majority leader of the state House of Representatives..

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